Justice Faith Ireland’s legal journey started 50 years ago as a trial lawyer after she graduated from Willamette University College of Law as only one of two women in her class.
During that time, there weren’t many female lawyers, especially in litigation. After being turned down multiple times because of her gender, Justice Ireland answered an ad placed by a firm in search of a female litigator. She was hired and had a wonderful experience learning to be a trial lawyer.
Justice Ireland was the first female board member of the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association (now known as the Washington State Association for Justice); however, she wasn’t allowed to vote. Eventually, she succeeded in getting that rule changed as more women joined the board.
After 13 years of litigation work, Justice Ireland became a King County Superior Court judge and then a Washington Supreme Court justice. During her time as a supreme court justice, she worked on crucial issues like access to justice, diversity of the judiciary and the education of judges, and was a founder of the National Institute for Judicial Education.
After retiring from the court, Justice Ireland joined JAMS, where she does arbitration, mediation, and appellate work.
Diversity and Inclusion
While the playing field may seem more level today than it was in the 1970s, Justice Ireland feels there is still work to be done towards ensuring equal opportunities for men and women.
While on the superior court, Justice Ireland established the first program to help women lawyers learn how to run for a judgeship in Washington State and was involved in women’s organizations such as Washington Women Lawyers and the National Association of Women Judges.
In addition to her work at JAMS, Justice Ireland is a life empowerment coach. Most of her clients are female lawyers, and she finds great pleasure in mentoring them to harness and apply their power.
“Every one of us who is dedicated to justice must exert the effort that we can to make sure our diverse society is well represented, has access to justice and is treated with dignity,” says Justice Ireland.
A Heavy Lifter in and out of the Courtroom
While on the supreme court, Justice Ireland started powerlifting. After an accident, she found herself suffering from chronic back pain, so she began working out to address it.
Eventually, she became an international powerlifter and spent the next 15 years traveling the world and setting world records.
This experience benefited her both physically and mentally, reaffirming her ability to overcome obstacles and do whatever she put her mind to.
Persistence Is Your Best Friend
Justice Ireland is known for many things, but most of all, she is respected for her persistence in the face of difficult or unfair situations.
“My recipe for success in my life has always been always to believe the people who are telling you that you can do something and never to believe the people who are telling you that you can’t. Persistence is your best friend.”
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